Refinishing Oak Kitchen Cabinets

If you apply the right coat of paint to your kitchen cabinets, your kitchen renovation will run smoothly. Changing the overall look of your kitchen can be an easy process, but only if you right the paint and primer. A fresh coat of paint on oak cabinets might be just what your kitchen needs to revamp it. Refinishing kitchen cabinets that are oak is a common choice for many homeowners. For a great presentation of oak kitchen cabinets, follow these steps.

The benefits of refinishing oak cabinets vs refacing cabinets

  1. Cost – Kitchen cabinet painting as well as kitchen cabinet refinishing are the more economical options. Brand new kitchen cabinets in Toronto can be quite pricey, so it’s the less expensive option to simply do cabinet refinishing and kitchen cabinet painting.
  2. Little disruption – Did you know that most professional painters who do kitchen cabinet refinishing as well as kitchen cabinet painting do so outside of your home? The process is usually done off-site, so there is minimal disruption to your everyday life!
  3. Refinishing kitchen cabinets can show off your natural wood better – Kitchen cabinet refinishing is a great way to bring life back to your well loved cupboards which might have seen better days.
  4. Painting kitchen cabinets means unlimited colours! – When you go the route of refinishing kitchen cupboards, there is simply an unlimited supply of different paint colour choices to choose from.
  5. Selling your home soon? Everyone looks at the kitchen! – Even if selling your home is far down the line, you will get a better return on your investment when you get cabinet refinishing done because everyone loves a beautiful kitchen!

Use Shellac for Oak Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing

Look to the White Pigmented Shellac Primer from Sherwin Williams because it tackles some of the issues surrounding the refinishing kitchen cabinets. First, the shellac seals the grain and the consistency of pigmented shellac is that of stain. This is great for penetrating the deep crevices of the grain that is noticeable in oak wood. The shellac, however, dries very fast. So, the best way is to use a sprayer device. Spray the shellac using a 1.8mm tip. You could use a finer tip because compared to other primers, this is quite thin. When refinishing kitchen cabinets that are oak, work with one piece at a time. Do the details first, keep a wet edge, dab the corners, pull out from corners, and then roll the flats. Use a depleted roller on the sides. A great tip is to ensure your paint roller is wet, so that it is ready for the next sections. Do not let the roller dry out. Lastly, shellac cleans up well with Methyl Hydrate.


The big issue when refinishing kitchen cabinets to a solid finish is the yellow stains that go through the lacquer (otherwise known as Tannins). Tannins are natural dyes that originate from woods like oak and are an immediate issue when you are refinishing your oak cabinets to a white or off white colour. This is why the shellac primer comes in handy because nothing is better at dealing with oak tannin than pigmented shellac base primers.

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Resufacing Kitchen Cabinets: Sanding 

You should sand your oak cabinets after the primer coats. You will need to sand down between the primer coats and the finish coats, but only if you want the grain of the oak to fully absorb the lacquer. Painting companies have realized that they use more effort to finish oak doors when in a darker colour, than if it was in an off white or white colour. This is because the grain in lighter colours must be fully absorbed. If not, black pit marks will appear in the deeper crevices of the grain. That is why you must sand between primer and finish coats, so that the grain will level off. Lastly, it will also fill the deeper crevices with sanding dust and burnt in with the next coat of primer or lacquer.

Don’t recoat primers

For a fine and smooth finish, do not recoat primers before the suggested drying time. You should instead let the primer dry at least a day before sanding. For your primer coat to work well, you will need to sand away less edges for it to leave a better build. After finishing up with the shellac primer, you should use a lacquer based primer product called surfacer. The surfacer (unlike the shellac) sands to a soft powder like substance. Also, it will finish and seal in the grain, which is exactly what is needed. 

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Restaining Oak Kitchen Cabinets 

Restaining will allow you to change the existing colour of your old kitchen cabinets. This is great for homeowners who want change, so that their kitchen looks more fresh and appealing. This particular process of refinishing kitchen cabinets involves a clear finish and an inexpensive coating to be applied. To re-stain your kitchen cabinets, you will need to strip down the old varnish using a remover chemical. Then, sand the wood to its bare state, and then apply the stain and two coats of varnish.

Resurfacing Kitchen Cabinets: Lacquer

What is lacquer? It is a wood finish that is available in a coloured or clear form. It dries either by the solvent’s evaporation or by a curing process. Both these methods will result in a durable finish. The sheen level ranges from matte to high gloss and can be polished to the desired feel and look. It can be found in various colours, is eco-friendly, and fairly cost-effective. You can re-lacquer your kitchen cabinets at any time, with the help of experienced professional painters. They will make sure your kitchen cabinets are up to date with the latest trends and are modern (all to your liking). The benefits of re-lacquering are: ease of application, a number of colours to pick from, and a strong, distinctive look.

Painting kitchen cabinets cost

If you’re curious about kitchen cabinet painting cost or are looking to have your oak kitchen cabinets refinished, Home Painters Toronto can help you out. If you need refinishing and painting, our spray kitchen cabinets costs start at $2,500. Also, if you’re confused about paint colour, coloured kitchen cabinets are so on trend this season! It can be difficult to know which route to take in terms of interior painting colours. We can definitely help you out with a colour consultation to let you know interior colour trends for 2021 as well as the cost of painting kitchen cabinets professionally!

Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest page for all sorts of interior painting inspiration!

More interesting blogs related to ” Refinishing Oak Kitchen Cabinets “:

  1. The Best Paint For Kitchen Cabinets
  2. Inexpensive Ways to Update Your Kitchen Cabinets
  3. How To Paint PVC Kitchen Cabinets
  4. How to Skim Coat Drywall After Wallpaper

Are you looking to have some professional painting services do your kitchen cabinet painting? Call 416.494.9095 or email brian@HomePaintersToronto.com for a FREE quote or visit our website https://www.homepainterstoronto.com/

From The Owner & Founder


Hello and welcome!

I’m both deeply honoured and flattered you are considering using our services.

Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, our painters take their jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

At Home Painters our mission is to paint homeowners’ dreams, and make your painting experience last a lifetime!
I look forward to hopefully meeting you one day, as it brings me tremendous joy to make homeowner’s dreams come true.



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